The International Steam Pages


Steam in Northern China, November/December 2000

Michael Rhodes reports on the Extreme Steam Team's latest expedition (25/11/00 to 12/12/00)


Owing to space limitations on my server, the images from this report have been removed (15th June 2004). 


25/11/00
BA039 LHR-Beijing

26/11/00
CA1107 Beijing-Baotou

27/11/00
Singing Sands - weather sunny, light wind, -4 to +6

0930

QJ

Baotou-Dongsheng passenger

1030

QJ

southbound coal empties

1107

QJ6247

Hohot-Dongsheng passenger

1130

QJ

northbound coal

1330

QJ6088

southbound coal empties

1425

QJ

northbound coal

1510

QJ6784

southbound coal empties

1547

2 x DF4

Dongsheng-Hohot (ex-Xian works)

1640

QJ6711

northbound coal

28/11/00
Aobaogou - weather sunny, -15 to +4

0830

QJ6178 plus 2 others

northbound coal

0900

QJ6711 light

southbound banker

Shashagetai

0916

QJ6452,6247 plus 6178

northbound coal

1045

QJ6169

passenger-Shemnu

1110

QJ6711

coal Shashagetai-Baotou

1205

QJ2967

downhill empties

1220

QJ6171

light engine banker

1248

QJ6784,6018 plus 6171

northbound coal

1320

QJ6452

light engine to Shemnu

1400

QJ6195

light engine to Shemnu

1455

QJ6193

light engine to Shemnu

1530

QJ6348

Shemnu-Baotou passenger

Dongsheng shed
QJ6783,6785, 6348, 2389, 6088, 6287
Stored QJ6307, 2938, 6740

Note - Shashagetai is 13km south of Aobaogou and is reached along the same bumpy track. It is where the bankers are attached for the climb to Dongsheng and is also a coal "disposal point" with a big loading pad. The single headed coal trains with 20-25 loads in tow originate from here. There is an excellent restaurant at the north end of the station where a good meal can be had within eyesight of the mainline!

29/11/00
Aobaogou & Shashagetai - weather sunny, -14 to +4

0745

2 x QJ plus banker

northbound coal

0755

QJ

downhill empties

0925

QJ6783, 6195 plus 6178

downhill empties with banker in tow

1015

QJ6785, 6711 plus 6178

northbound coal

1100

QJ6482

downhill empties

1210

QJ6194

downhill empties

1245

QJ6287

downhill empties

1410

QJ6195, 6789 plus 6171

northbound coal

1440

QJ6348

light engine to Shemnu

1524

QJ6789

passenger to Baotou

Travelled on passenger to Baotou.

Changed to QJ6863 at Dongsheng

Arrived Baotou at 1840 - beat the bus which raced us along the atrocious coal road.

30/11/00
Bus from Baotou to Hohot and then flight CA1121 to Hailar, then bus to Manzhouli

1/12/00
Jalainur opencast mine
Weather sunny but windy, -24 to -12

The pit was once a must on any visit to China. It was mothballed this summer and rumours of closure are rife. The whole system (of which I have painstakingly sketched a map if anybody is interested) comprises the opencast and several deep mines which between them have the capacity to produce 5 million tonnes of coal a year. The current output is just 10% of this in response to orders from a power plant at Fulageri. Of the systems 54 Sys, 30 are stored and 24 working around the system. Our observations were as follows:-

Jalainur passenger station (0800 - 0830)
SY1416 (QJ deflectors!), Sys 1618, 1126, 1688 (plus four stored)

Open pit (0900 - 1000)
SY 1041, 1654, 1600, 1678

Loco and carriage depot (1030-1100)
4 SY stored in distance
SY1303, 1678
Stored (four added to this store just 2 days earlier) - SY1286, 0957, 1285, 1449, 1284, 0867, 1374, 0613, 1192, 1617, 0682, 1496, 1401

Open pit (1330 - 1430)
SY 0471, 1401, 1681, 0795, 1240, 1600, 1248, 3005, 1119, 1650, 1678, 1654, 0358, 0119

China Rail exchange sidings and coal blending shed
SY1450, 1688, 0614, 1618

2/12/00
Train 1304 Manzhouli-Beijing as far as Changchun
SY1307 noted in colliery exchange sidings at Yakeshi

3/12/00
Arrive Changchun 0549
Weather -20 to -12, sunny and windy

Da'an Bei - Bridge to west

1030

QJ

freight to Changchun

1030

JS6481

hump pilot

1100

QJ7167

light engine to Baicheng

1130

QJ6468

freight to Tongliao

Crossing to east

1225

QJ6284

off shed

1240

QJ6586

tanks to Ranghulu

1255

JS6096

freight to Changchun

1430

QJ6112

arrive ex-Ranghulu

1435

JS6239 & QJ6809

yard

1500

JS6237

tanks to Songhua

1515

QJ6379

shed to yard

1530

QJ6809

freight to Ranghulu

1535

QJ6825

freight ex-Ranghulu

1540

QJ6247

light shed to yard

1555

QJ6273

freight ex-Ranghulu

Note - since our last visit in March 2000, the DF4s have made big incursions here. There are now only 2 or 3 freights a day with steam on the Taipingchuan line. We saw nothing more than a light engine on the Baicheng line. This leaves about 70% freights towards Ranghulu with steam power (see notes later for the locations along this line) and 100% on the line towards Changchun which has 5 or 6 freights a day at the moment.

4/12/00
Da'an Bei. Weather -16 all day, howling gale and snow flurries - diabolical!

Songhe River Bridge

0730

QJ

freight to Ranghulu

0810

QJ3287

light

0900

QJ

freight to Daan

0920

QJ & QJ

freight to Daan (tender to tender)

0950

QJ6089

freight to Ranghulu

Gave up as the weather was closing in and we were stuck on the northern side of the Songhe River having driven over the ice (the next day a lorry fell through the ice so we didn't repeat this).

Da'an level crossing

1150

QJ6112

light

1200

QJ6825

light

1230

JS6096

tanks to Songhua

1240

QJ7086

light to shed

1330

QJ6886

freight to Changchun

Early bath as snow too thick to see through!

5/12/00
Da'an - weather sunny, -24 to -10
Songhe Bridge

0740

QJ6887

freight to Da'an

Da'an shed 0800 - 0900
Comment:- we were recognised as the "Extreme Steam Team" by an enthusiastic Taiwanese gricer - it's a funny old world!
JS6096, QJ6112, 6825, 6237, 6887, 6926, 6809, 7173, 3179, 6847, 3251, 6682, 6809, 6379,.
Scrap line - QJ6303, 3181, 1344, 3106, 2764, 3115, 3230, 2749
DF4 - 1692, 3986, 2435.

Da'an Crossing

1000

QJ6825

leaving shed

1025

JS6096

freight to Changchun

1035

QJ6571

entering shed

1055

QJ6926

tanks to Changchun

1100

QJ6484

freight from Ranghulu

Bridge to west of station

1155

QJ6825

freight to Taipingchuan

Caught 1257 Daan-Ranghulu, observations along the way as follows.

1255

QJ6571

freight at Daan to Taipingchuan

1320

QJ6586

crossed at Jianmen

1335

QJ6809

crossed at Xinzhan

1420

QJ6887

crossed at Taiyangshen

1427

QJ3287

crossed at Lizhi

1441

QJ6926

crossed at Xiangyangcun

1534

QJ6852

pilot at Linyuan

 

QJ6773

crossed at Linyuan

 

QJ6889

taking water at Linyuan

1630

QJ6112

crossed on tanks at Dulitun

1657

 

arrived Ranghulu

Comments:- we saw no steam at Ranghulu and most of the oil traffic seems to come from large refineries with big yards at Dulitun and Linyuan. Both these yards have diesel pilots and we saw both the GK type and DF5 types. I have not included DF4 sightings around Da'an etc, but there are quite a lot about!
Took T406, 1754 Ranghulu to Harbin Dong then the 2134 Harbin to Shuangyashan sleeper (very new and clean stock which was heated to 26 degrees in the sleeper due to an overactive generator car!)

6/12/00
Shuangyashan - weather sunny, -24 to -13 windy
This is a great colliery system which has been brought to our attention by Ted Talbot. There are steep inclines out of SYS on both the Fushan and mainlines and QJ hauled passengers. Like the rest of the Chinese coal industry, things are in decline big time. The system serves 10 or 11 collieries which are said to have an output of 10 million tonnes of coal each year. Current production may be as little as 10% of this and thus coal traffic is not very frequent. Mercifully the passenger services run regularly and make a great spectacle.

Fushan branch

1010

SY1045 & QJ3135

coal empties to Fushan (top & tail)

Mainline

1050

QJ6808

downhill passenger

1130

QJ6805

downhill passenger

1212

QJ3593

downhill coal

1259

QJ3598

uphill passenger

1340

QJ6897

downhill coal

Chanshan

1350

QJ6808

uphill passenger to Fushan

1420

QJ3135

coal downhill ex-Fushan

Mainline

1459

QJ6805

uphill passenger

1510

QJ

uphill coal empties

7/12/00
SYS - weather -16, foggy and still to sunshine later.
Fushan branch

0750

QJ6805

uphill passenger

0920

QJ3019 & SY1045

uphill empties

Chanshan shed
SY0568, QJ3594, QJ3593 (rods off), QJ3598
SYS CNR station

0950

SY0597

(yard pilot)

1000

QJ3135

coal empties mainline

1010

QJ6806

servicing point (tender off 7020)

1015

DF7 3046

servicing point

SYS colliery station

1050

QJ6808

passenger ex-Fushan

1055

DF7 3046

coal empties mainline

1100

QJ6805

passenger ex-mainline

1120

QJ7030

passenger ex-mainline

Changan

1130

QJ3019

coal downhill ex-mainline

1150

SY

coal empties to Fushan

1230

DF7 0292 & SY1045

coal ex-Fushan

1240

QJ7019

passenger uphill mainline

1320

QJ7030

coal empties mainline

1350

QJ6808

uphill passenger to Fushan

1440

QJ6805

uphill passenger mainline

Took 1908 sleeper to Harbin (again very overheated), then 0800 streamlined DMU from Harbin to Yabuli for bus ride to Weihe. Truth be told I got the mother and father of all chest infections for the Weihe visit and missed 2 days of freezing cold, snowy, grey weather. On 8/12/00 the evening passenger ran to time and we got some lovely views with the monthly street market in Xiping. On 9/12/00 the passenger ran to time and Steve and Vernon saw 3 rakes of empties. On 10/12/00 the temperature dropped to -27 and the chaps saw the passenger 1 hour late and 3 log trains. I sat under 2 duvets in the forestry lodge with a 2 bar electric fire for comfort and the magic of Captain Corellis Mandolin (what a cheesy novel). On 11/12/00 we took the 0840 Yabuli to Harbin, then a flight to Beijing. This allows us our traditional Bejing Duck supper next to the International Hotel before the BA038 home on 12/12.

Summary - an excellent trip.

Dongsheng is a banker for good pictures in the winter when the coal is flowing but go soon as the new line is finished and there may be significant falls in the tonnage along this line once it comes on stream.

Jalainur is still worth a visit - the open pit is very spectacular and the branch to the deep mines is well worth exploring. The system is on its last legs as low sulphur Shemnu coal wipes out the old style coal fields. The system is mothballed in the summer, so winter is the only time to go.

Da'an is just a great place as I said in my first report from there last March. There is less steam but the JS working on the line to Changchun is just a joy to behold and there is plenty of QJ action still towards Ranghulu. It will finish in August 2001 so time is short.

SYS - we owe Ted Talbot a lot for drawing this system to our collective attention. The QJ passengers are great and if the coal is flowing there are dozens of photographic possibilities - I've marked this one down for a revisit.

Weihe - great system but somebody somewhere has upset the drivers as information was hard to come by and they even deliberately turned headlights off and open the draincocks to stop photography. There's a few years left in this one too and its definitely worth another visit.


Rob Dickinson

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